Developing “Family Integrated Treatment” for Autistic Disorders and Comparing its Efficacy on Decreasing Parenting Stress of Parents of Autistic Children with “Little Bird” Method

Document Type : Original Articles


1 Department of Psychology, School of Educational Sciences and Psychology, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran

2 Professor, Department of Psychology, Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran

3 Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, School of Educational Sciences and Psychology, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran

4 Department of General Psychology, School of Human Sciences, Tehran Branch, Payame Noor University, Tehran, Iran

5 Department of Family Therapy, Family Research Institute, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran



Introduction: Autism is one of the most famous neuro-developmental disorders and increases parental stresses. On the other hand, decrease of parental stress has positive effect on child response to treatment. So, the main goal of this study was to develop a family education program for parents of children with autism, which is effective on decreasing their parental stress. Materials and Methods: The first part of the study was a qualitative research of three categories of information resulted from deep interviews with 11 specialists, semi-structured interviews with 30 parents and review of 101 articles. The second part was an experimental research on two intervention, and one control groups, with three examination stages: before, after and one-month fallow-up. To fulfill this goal, 42 parents were selected from the parents of autistic children who received services in Tehran Autism Center, Iran, during the study period, and then, were divided randomly to tree groups. The material used for this section of study was Parental Stress Index (PSI). The results were analyzed using covariate analysis and analysis of variance techniques via SPSS20 software. Results: Our family integrated treatment method for autistic disorders was more efficient on decreasing reinforcing (P = 0.032), mood (P = 0.010), acceptability (P = 0.013), and adaptability (P = 0.004), and total score of child stress (P = 0.004). In addition, it showed significant effect on competence (P = 0.002), depression (P = 0.001), social isolation (P = 0.002), attachment (P < 0.001), role restriction (P =0.001), parental health (P = 0.003), and total score of parental stress (P < 0.001), and also on PSI-total score (P < 0.001), in comparison with 2 other groups. Conclusion: In comparison with previous parental training programs like little bird program which mostly focuses on stress of child domain, family integrated treatment method pays attention to special needs of every single family and its comprehensiveness; and is effective on decreasing parental domain of stress as well.